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Ideal No. 1 boiler question for draining

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Hello, I'm new here and found this place as I was searching for info on my boiler.  We recently moved in a 1920s built home, that has a steam boiler which is original to the house. It used to be coal or oil, and was converted to natural gas maybe 15 years ago.  The boiler currently feeds 6 radiator in the house.  Over the years there were expansions on the house built which weren't tied into the system, so we have really uneven heat in the winters.  We are undergoing a conversion to a high efficiency central HVAC system in the basement up through floor registers.  We will need to drain and disconnect the old girl, and then have an asbestos remediation company come cut and remove all the pipes.  

In advance of this, I need to have the system drained of all water.  From what I've learned, I need to get a radiator key and open all the vents on the radiators, and then drain the main boiler.  My question is where does that drain occur?  The only outlet I see is this bib near the expansion tank.  Is there anywhere else to drain from?  

Btw we plan to have the radiator put on a dolly, cleaned up and kept for decoration downstairs.  Due to the size it cannot be removed in one piece from the basement and I don't want to destroy this piece of history.  

Thanks in advance for all your help!  Pics attached.


Comments

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    You don't need to drain steam radiators. All the water should be in the boiler and the wet returns.

    Are you going to sell any radiators? If so, where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    aggiewol
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Are you quite sure it's steam? Looks like gravity hot water.

    I won't question your change to forced air -- I wouldn't have done that, and you won't be as comfortable, but it's your house.

    I would agree that probably the only drain is where the expansion tank is attached. You will have to open all the radiator bleeders, but even then there is likely to be some water left in the radiators and the piping. You will probably need a pump and hose arrangement for most of the water from that drain, unless you have a very good floor drain in the basement which does NOT go to your sanitary sewage.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    aggiewol
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    You don't need to drain steam radiators. All the water should be in the boiler and the wet returns.

    Are you going to sell any radiators? If so, where are you located?

    Thanks...we are in Northern Nevada...I had to scrap one spare radiator in the basement (I tried listing on FB/etc and no one wanted to come get it). Any ideas where we can find a new home for them?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
    edited February 2022
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    You don't need to drain steam radiators. All the water should be in the boiler and the wet returns.

    Are you going to sell any radiators? If so, where are you located?

    That is not a Steam boiler. That is a hot water boiler


    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    reggi
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    Are you quite sure it's steam? Looks like gravity hot water.

    I won't question your change to forced air -- I wouldn't have done that, and you won't be as comfortable, but it's your house.

    I would agree that probably the only drain is where the expansion tank is attached. You will have to open all the radiator bleeders, but even then there is likely to be some water left in the radiators and the piping. You will probably need a pump and hose arrangement for most of the water from that drain, unless you have a very good floor drain in the basement which does NOT go to your sanitary sewage.

    I was told it was steam, but personally don't know how to validate. Any idea how I can find out? As for the floor drain, that's a separate problem we are trying to resolve. There is a 2" floor drain that someone at some point in the history of the house hooked up a washer/dryer to. That drain is no longer in use, but is backed up. A plumber snaked it out 50+ feet but no luck. We would have to get the water either into 5gal buckets and walk up, or through a hose up to the ground level.

    Jamie--I appreciate your comment about the forced air. We agonized over the decision, but there were a flurry of factors which made me feel like it was the best compromise. We needed A/C (it's consistently 90+ in summers), and there is a lack of boiler techs in the area. And then we need the basement space to be useable for us, which meant the pipes had to be relocated...not to mention the addition space which is not tied in currently. All which ultimately led me to go down this path.

  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    That is not a Steam boiler. That is a hot water boiler


    Got it, thank you...any thoughts on how much water would be in a system like this?
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    I hope you are making a informed decision as not knowing the difference between Steam and Hot Water heating and now wanting to jump into Forced Air via floor registers which surely are going to take up headroom you're trying to reclaim makes me wonder if you really know what you are getting into ? 
    Some sales reps are very good at selling what they have available and the fattest return for their company...( Not knowing Steam vs Hot water wouldn't instill confidence in their experience and abilities to address your best concerns) IMHO Reading it the way it's written.. G/L
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
    edited February 2022
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    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    aggiewol
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
    edited February 2022
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    Amazing info, thank you! You are spot on...we can actually see where coal was dragged in from the window from the old marks on the floor. There is an abandoned oil tank on the property as well.
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    reggi said:

    I hope you are making a informed decision as not knowing the difference between Steam and Hot Water heating and now wanting to jump into Forced Air via floor registers which surely are going to take up headroom you're trying to reclaim makes me wonder if you really know what you are getting into ? 
    Some sales reps are very good at selling what they have available and the fattest return for their company...( Not knowing Steam vs Hot water wouldn't instill confidence in their experience and abilities to address your best concerns) IMHO Reading it the way it's written.. G/L

    I didn't put in all the details, but we are able to run the ductwork around perimeter of the basement and crawl space areas to service the house appropriately while not interfering with the headspace. I interviewed half a dozen HVAC companies, the ones which came recommend and highly reviewed. It's always a bit of a gamble but I ultimately I can't risk the boiler going down in the winter with my family having no heat. I called many companies and none would service this old beast so I felt like we were stuck. Again, I really appreciate the thoughts here.

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
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    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    bburd
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
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    here is a book you might like to look thru. your upstairs radiators may be listed here https://heatinghelp.com/assets/documents/205.pdf
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    aggiewol said:

    Thanks...we are in Northern Nevada...I had to scrap one spare radiator in the basement (I tried listing on FB/etc and no one wanted to come get it). Any ideas where we can find a new home for them?

    Finding someone who needs them and is close enough to pick them up is always a challenge, but you can never find them when you need them, and it's a shame to let them get scrapped. If you have room to store them, you could list them here in the Buy/Sell/Barter forum.

    Are these also made by American Radiator? I could probably use a couple of them, but the freight would kill me. I'm in PA.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    aggiewol said:

    Thanks...we are in Northern Nevada...I had to scrap one spare radiator in the basement (I tried listing on FB/etc and no one wanted to come get it). Any ideas where we can find a new home for them?

    Finding someone who needs them and is close enough to pick them up is always a challenge, but you can never find them when you need them, and it's a shame to let them get scrapped. If you have room to store them, you could list them here in the Buy/Sell/Barter forum.

    Are these also made by American Radiator? I could probably use a couple of them, but the freight would kill me. I'm in PA.
    They are all American Radiator Co, and mostly in great shape. We are leaving one in place because it's nice to look at...there are 2 big ones, 2 med, and 1 small. I would gladly give them away to a good home...I'll make a post and see if anyone could give them a new home.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,313
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    Let me get this straight. You are leaving the boiler in place because it's a nice antique (it is). You are leaving the radiators in place because it's nice to look at them (they are). You are ripping out the plumbing connecting everything because it's easier to run ductwork around the periphery?

    I'll be blunt. Someone has sold you a colossal bill of goods. You will be much less comfortable with the forced air. You are gaining nothing in interior space except moving some pipes. A competent contractor or even a good plumber could reroute those pipes and install a nice wall hung condensing boiler over in one corner somewhere in a matter of a few days at most, save even more space -- and a bundle of cash.

    You've been had, and had good, by some contractor.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Daveinscrantondelcrossv
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    Let me get this straight. You are leaving the boiler in place because it's a nice antique (it is). You are leaving the radiators in place because it's nice to look at them (they are). You are ripping out the plumbing connecting everything because it's easier to run ductwork around the periphery?

    I'll be blunt. Someone has sold you a colossal bill of goods. You will be much less comfortable with the forced air. You are gaining nothing in interior space except moving some pipes. A competent contractor or even a good plumber could reroute those pipes and install a nice wall hung condensing boiler over in one corner somewhere in a matter of a few days at most, save even more space -- and a bundle of cash.

    You've been had, and had good, by some contractor.

    This!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Daveinscranton
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
    edited February 2022
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    I hear everyones concerns about @aggiewol decision to remove a perfectly good piping system that is probably the most comfortable part of the house. The additions to the home are not as comfortable because the additional heating emitters and piping design are not as well engineered as the old original cast iron radiators. This makes the entire house uneven. If you are good at doing ductwork and are asked "Can you solve my problem?" then Ductwork is the best way to to it. If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

    The problem is that @aggiewol has not found a good Hydronics contractor. And if he did, the redesign of the problem area may be that you need to tear everything out of the addition and start over with new heat emitters and proper zoning and a really efficient ModCon boiler that will operate at 96% or better efficiency. We who know how consumers that make this decision are very often unhappy with the decision after the work is completed, sometimes find it difficult to compete with the Scorched Air contractors. Sometimes, by that time, the money has already been spent.

    I have given up on some customers that choose to listen to uninformed, inexperienced, Warm air HVAC dealers that will promise the best comfort with a HOT AIR duct system in opposition to those with experience living in both a radiator heated home and a ductwork heated home. Only after experiencing the difference in the way the different heating systems make you feel can you fully understand that removing radiators to get a better heating system is seldom the right thing to do. Once the decision is made to get both Heat and Air-conditioning from the same holes in the walls (or ceilings or floors), the cost of a good duct design is often less expensive than Hydronic heat. And if the Air conditioning is going in anyway, then why not add the gas heater to the job.

    I am currently living in South Carolina, in a 50 year old Rancher on a slab. I relay dislike my heat pump for heating. Well designed, properly installed, all the insulation is intact, and the vapor barrier is properly sealed at the joints. Really nice job in my opinion. But the heat feels cold to me and i'm never really comfortable in the winter. Sure glad winter is a lot shorter here!

    If there is room to leave the old radiators, pipes and boiler in place for at least one winter Just to see how the Scorched Air heat feels then see how radiators feel, that would be the best way to do it. Then if the Hot Air system is uncomfortable, you won't need to put all the pipes and radiators back in place. All you need to do is get a more efficient boiler in a few years.

    Anyway, If you are keeping the boiler as a conversation piece, I'll keep looking for the Mercoid Stack Relay

    Good luck with whatever decision you make.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    Hap_Hazzard
  • aggiewol
    aggiewol Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks @EdTheHeaterMan.  It's difficult to explain everything here in a single post.  I made the decision to switch based on our home and priorities...all without having sales people selling me.  I did my independent research.  I understand what I'm gaining and losing, as I've lived with forced air most of my life.  I appreciate you all challenging me and providing perspective.  

    Ed I'd love to take you up on your generous offer; will PM you separately.


    reggi
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    I look at it a little different. If your in nevada and the "experts" have looked at your boiler and told you it is Steam when it is Hot water

    Then your better off with forced air as there is probably no one out there that can service it anyhow

    Those of us in the northeast have to realize that the steam and hydronics is localized in the northeast and maybe central and upper mid west and some on the west coast. We are far and away outnumbered by scorched air

    Most people around here can't get anyone decent to fix their system

    Imagine how it is in parts of the country that have little or no hydronics
    ethicalpaulEdTheHeaterMan
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    I was reminded why I hate forced air when I spent a few days at my mother's house. I woke up in the guest room the first morning freezing to death, even though the furnace had been running. I forgot that there was no cold air return, so the room only gets heat if the door is open. Some rooms have cold air returns and others don't, and since they didn't expect to use the guest room very often when the house was built, half a century ago, they decided not to include one. You get spoiled living in a house where every room has its own heat source that works independent of airflow patterns.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    Not a big fan of forced air, but it's like anything else. If it's not done right it won't work right.

    My old boss was a PE. He designed a hot air job for a brand new house owned by a big shot who owned a big department store

    he put in two lennox furnaces, all the ductwork was the right size and he had big linnear baseboard diffusers.

    When you stood in the living space with both furnaces running you couldn't tell they were running. And we never had any complaints.

    Most hot air jobs don't work because the ductwork is undersized.

    The one thing about an air system is if you do a heat loss and size the ducts by the heat loss and the pick a furnace or AHU that puts out more air than designed for you will have problems.

    You have to do a heat loss pick the furnace or AHU you going to use then size your ductwork based on how much air that unit will move otherwise your ducts are undersized